Friday, November 28, 2008

Read it and weep

"I tried to put it in the simplest possible terms for you people, so you'd get it straight, because I thought it was pretty important," said God, called Yahweh and Allah respectively in the Judaic and Muslim traditions. "I guess I figured I'd left no real room for confusion after putting it in a four-word sentence with one-syllable words, on the tablets I gave to Moses. How much more clear can I get?"

"But somehow, it all gets twisted around and, next thing you know, somebody's spouting off some nonsense about, 'God says I have to kill this guy, God wants me to kill that guy, it's God's will,'" God continued. "It's not God's will, all right? News flash: 'God's will' equals 'Don't murder people.'"

A thought for the people who sent the murderers into Bombay.

Russia and Cuba, NBFs

'Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is in Cuba for the final stop in a tour of Latin America intended to strengthen Russian influence in the region.'

Yeah, I can understand why pseudo-Communist Cuba would want to pal up with neo-fascist Russia. So much in common! Ok, not that much, actually... apart from a generalised loathing of the United States and effective, legitimate governance. I guess in todays world thats enough...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The most inconsequential sanctions in the history of sanctions

'The sanctions include a ban on Mr Mugabe and other government officials from travelling to EU countries. ...The sanctions apply to all senior Zimbabwean officials "who commit human rights violations and restrict freedom of opinion, association and peaceful protest", according to an EU resolution. Last year, the ban was extended from 79 to 95 people.

Other sanctions include a ban on arms sales and the freezing of Zimbabwean assets in European banks.'

So, just to summarize, the sanctions against Zimbabwe are:

1. Ban on travelling to the EU (only applies to the EU) for 95 named individuals
2. Ban on arms sales to Zimbabwe
3. Freezing of Zimbabwean assets in European banks (only applies to European banks)

'"The situation is under control, there is no need to declare it [an emergency]," Zimbabwean Deputy Health Minister Edwin Muguti told AFP news agency on Wednesday.

"These are results of punitive illegal sanctions imposed on us by the West... I am sure they like what they are seeing from this outbreak."'

What I would like to ask Mr Muguti is, which sanctions actually caused the outbreak of cholera? By what mechanism or means? Many black people I've met in Britain are very bitter about these anti-Zimbabwe sanctions, and apparently the less they know about them, the bitterer they are.

I suspect that you, Mr Muguti, are encouraging ignorant people to believe that there are broadscale economic and trade sanctions against Zimbabwe. The only results of the current sanctions regime that I would personally find credible would be slightly annoyed Zanu PF officials who can't keep their stolen money in the EU any more, and who can't accompany their wives on shopping sprees in Paris and London. How millions of starving people dying of cholera could result from these piffling inconsequential 'targeted' sanctions is a question I would very much like Mr Muguti to expound on.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Economics and bullsh*t

Business and economics are absolutely definitely not my field of expertise. Saying that, I sniff enormous amounts of bull dung in both the print and broadcast media about the current situation. Lets see if I can distill the bits that worry me the most.

1. Its all the fault of global markets/capitalism. As far as I can tell, the people at fault in the current crisis are a) us, or rather, the people who got mortgages, loans and credit cards that they should NEVER EVER have been given; b) the financial institutions who were strong-armed by politicians and social engineers to give the aforementioned mortgages and loans to very bad risk individuals; c) the credit card companies who failed to rein in the more egregious spending of overtly greedy and imprudent people; d) the banks who dealt in financial instruments they barely/didn't understand; e) last and very much least the government regulators who oversee the financial markets. I single out the latter as being virtually not responsible because their job is NOT about stopping stupid people from doing stupid things, it is about preventing illegal and unethical behaviour. Stupidity is NOT their remit.

2. Its the job of government to fix everything. This notion is in the interests of both the (powerful) heads of failing large companies and the (powerful) leaders of government who know an opportunity to extend ever further the reach of government. Not represented in this situation are the interests of the tens of millions of mainly poor people who will be picking up the tab while these dismal failures are rewarded with taxpayer money. Utterly absent is the notion that failure is a necessary and restorative result of stupid and ill-judged business behaviour. Failure is for people with small businesses and no political clout ONLY.

3. Fiddling about with tax and interest rates is 'fixing' the problems. The current crisis is big. It doesn't seem terminal, but it does seem like it will be at least a couple of years coming back to equilibrium. Like all big structural problems, it is almost completely useless to think we are in control of the fix. Just like taking aspirin to get over a cold- the cold will disappear after four or five days regardless. The only thing we might do if we tinker about a lot, is screw up things that aren't broken at the moment. That will almost certainly happen with the rediculous 'remedies' currently being touted by Gordon Brown (a temporary cut in VAT and tax rates that then morphs into an INCREASE in VAT and tax rates, combined with enormous unsustainable government spending).

4. We must SOLVE the credit crisis. It seems that mostly what is happening is make-work and displacement activity. Displacement activity because the issues that are the genuine responsibility of government, which require measures to solve them, seem to be at the bottom of the to-do list. What is the government doing about the disastrous inflation/generosity of public sector pensions? What is the government doing about reducing the rediculously high head-count in the public sector (6 million or so people)? What is the government doing about benefits bloat? What is the government doing about the permanent benefits culture endemic in Britains cities? What is the government doing about about public housing, many of the tenants of which are better off than I am; while genuinely needy people are housed in temporary housing because the public housing stock is unavailable?

5. Too big to fail. I am definitely not the only person beginning to think that too big to fail is absolute bullsh*t. Margaret Thatcher single-handedly revived the British economy by systematically destroying/privatising/breaking-up most of the countries enormous state-run industries. The results, slow at first, but much faster during the second half of the nineties and the first eight years of this century, are that Britain is now in the top six economies in the world; in 1978 Britain was bankrupt. Only very recently has the deadly python-like grip of the Labour parties taxation and benefits regime started to squeeze the life out of the British economy. It was inevitable, but the British voter is too stupid to work out the broad-brush trends, sadly. As labour costs have increased, working time decreased, holiday and maternity entitlements grown, taxation and the burden of bureaucracy increased, the economy has started to wheeze and strain. Sadly, although Mrs Thatcher did for the large nationalised industries, she did not take a big axe to the government make-work departments and the staggeringly huge welfare system. We need a new Mrs Thatcher. Dave?

6. We are the ones who will fix your broken lives. Many of the pronouncements about the credit crisis actually assume that it is credible to imagine Gordon Brown and his weirdo chancellor fixing our broken lives- paying our mortgages, providing us with jobs, making the banks loan money to people, flying tall buildings at a single leap, yada yada yada. Gordon Brown has always struck me as one of those terribly, terribly clever people who can't see the plain facts directly under his nose. Increasing the tax rates on rich people to 45% is an ABSOLUTELY GUARUNTEED way to chase many of them to off-shore hideaways, so the British exchequer gets exactly zero of their money. Labour did it before, and thats what happened. But hey, don't let exact parallels in the past spoil your whizzo plan, guys. Not only that, but telling people in advance that your tax cuts are temporary is a very very very bad way of encouraging people to spend lots of money in the next few months. People are generally pretty dumb, but they're not that dumb. All in all, I wouldn't trust Gordo and his pals to find their own arses with both hands. Let alone the enormously complex British economy.

7. The end of the world is nigh. My final point is this- so far, most of the terrible, terrible things that night after night the BBC and every other news outlet insist are going to happen haven't. No effort is made to discriminate between trends, which admittedly often look awful, and actual performance, which is much much better. Until last month BRITAIN WASN'T EVEN IN RECESSION. You could have been forgiven for thinking that actually the whole economy was bust, the banks were silent and empty, the last few businesses drifting into insolvency and the breadlines stretching beyond the horizon. Thats because the media insisted every single day on every single bulletin that it was so. Why? God only knows. What do the media get out of these Jeremiads? Nothing that I can discern. So why do they continue to do it? Boredom? A perverse delight in bad news?

I could be wrong about everything of course. But then thats the difference between me and our politicians. I KNOW I'm fallible.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Excellent as Mr Burns would say

We don't really do multimedia here at Merry Warriors but there's always the exception that proves the rule.

I want to take Nancy Pelosi on a tour of Baghdad personally.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The world has changed. Will the newspapers?

"It used to be that a handful of editors could decide what was news-and what was not. They acted as sort of demigods. If they ran a story, it became news. If they ignored an event, it never happened. Today editors are losing this power. The Internet, for example, provides access to thousands of new sources that cover things an editor might ignore. And if you aren't satisfied with that, you can start up your own blog and cover and comment on the news yourself. Journalists like to think of themselves as watchdogs, but they haven't always responded well when the public calls them to account." Rupert Murdoch. ( Hat Tip: Instapundit)

Oh right, so if I say it the world collectively yawns but if Rupe says it its gospel! But seriously, I think the number of successful models for a news organisation has increased from one or two to perhaps seven or eight. Loose agglomerations of interested individuals who club together to write an online newspaper for instance. It would be entirely possible to get true experts writing for every section of the 'newspaper' without having an office and with those experts sitting in 25 different countries. Why that has not happened (to the best of my knowledge) yet is somewhat of a mystery. But certainly Mr Murdochs main point is entirely valid - the newspaper business is not dead, but the old newspaper attitudes certainly have had their day.

Stockholm Syndrome

'Obama 'to rebuild moral stature'

Mr Obama said national security and the US economy would be top priorities
US President-elect Barack Obama has promised to rebuild his country's "moral stature in the world".

In his first television interview since the election, Mr Obama told CBS he would pull troops out of Iraq, shore up Afghanistan, and close Guantanamo Bay.'

Taking the arguments of your enemies and rivals and accepting their premises is so lame. To believe that the United States has lost its moral standing because it invaded Iraq and removed a vile dictator is to be morally squalid or French. But I repeat myself. To consider the luxurious high-security holiday camp at Gitmo a stain on Americas reputation, you would have to believe the ludicrous lies told by the inmates and their stentorian supporters in North London.

For a soon-to-be President to accept these dastardly mis-characterisations of his own nation to please a few nutjobs on the left is highly despicable- unless of course he actually believes them himself. In which case, America has a much bigger problem on its hands...

Monday, November 10, 2008


'Those who are certain are demonstrating their personality type, or their belief system, not the state of their knowledge.' [Via Instapundit]

Lovely quote. It should be branded onto the foreheads of every kid doing science at college.

Paul and his tiny bandwagon

'In his judgment, Mr Justice Eady had effectively ruled it was "perfectly acceptable" for the multi-millionaire head of a multi-billion pound sport, followed by countless young people, to pay five women to take part in acts of "unimaginable sexual depravity", Mr Dacre said.'

I virtually never pay attention to the tabloid hackmiesters, but when I read this I had a sudden feeling of time-travel- now I know what it must have been like in 1953. Thats the last year someone other than Paul Dacre actually thought that S & M was unimaginably depraved. Although we have to ask the question, does he really think that?

Because later he explains why this is all a National Question - "It is the others I care about - the crooks, the liars, the cheats, the rich and the corrupt sheltering behind a law of privacy being created by an unaccountable judge."

You might note that included in this list are 'the rich'. Which I think gives us the clue to what has really got in Mr Dacres bonnet. If he couldn't print tittle tattle about rich people in his steaming pile of excrement, what could they possibly fill all those pages with?

Presumably, being rich now means you are subject to every kind of snooping and undercover filming/spying/evesdropping to see if you are having kinky sex, even if you underwrite all of the AIDS orphanages in Calcutta and are in every other way the salt of the earth. That is not a Britain I want to live in.

I don't know who Paul Dacre thinks will accompany on this bandwagon, but I think its a much, much smaller crowd than he thinks.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Quick Question

Do all the 'conservatives' ripping into McCain expect to be taken seriously? Until two days ago, they wanted him to be president, now he's an incompetent moron? I personally will always respect John McCain, and think he is a brave and excellent man. Just because he lost doesn't change a thing. Picking Sarah Palin was an exciting and original action, creating a neat contrast with the dull and pedestrian Joe Biden. Many of McCains positions on things are principled, even if I don't always agree with them. He is genuinely bipartisan, where Obama triangulates that it sounds all grown-up and mature to extol bipartisanship. Obama has no track record of bipartisanship, probably because he is so liberal there is absolutely no chance of finding common ground even with the most flexible Republicans.

John McCain is probably too nice, in the old-fashioned, tough way. He doesn't really get the zietgiest, which is all about surface and bullshit and glossy nothingness. Which condemns us far more than it does him. I am sad he lost, mainly because of what it says about the pitiful thought processes of tens of millions of Americans. Saying that, George W Bush won last time when I thought he'd be overwhelmed by BDS and the scrofulous US left. I guess it just took some time to feed through. All I can say is, I know who I'd want in the trench next to me...

Two stories [Hat Tip: Instapundit]

'The Treatment of Bush Has Been a Disgrace. What must our enemies be thinking?'

I would say there are two parallel points. President George W Bush has been cheerful, optimistic, clear and statesmanlike; and yet he has been deluged with insults and smears and perverse misconstruing of his actions. President-elect Obama has been trite, vague, has suppressed evidence about himself and sold a two-dimensional version of himself to the electorate; and yet is treated as if he had climbed Everest, been first man on the moon and discovered the cure for cancer.

When you're in love with someone, their previous felony convictions, their terrible track record in long relationships, their obvious self-obsession and a million other quite awful things can seem tiny and unimportant and obscure. All that matters is the wonderfulness, the shininess, the overwhelming human presence of them. What happens after the gloss disappears? All those tiny, unimportant obscure details start to take on a proper proportion. That is what I predict will happen to Mr Obama. He is who he is. The lazy, hazy crush that millions of Americans (and people all round the world) have for him prevents them from asking any meaningful questions about whether what he is will affect what he does in the White House.

Obama is a machine politician from Chicago, weaned on the extreme left of American politics, dirty politics, fight-to-win politics. He is no pampered lapdog. And if you listened carefully to his words, you heard what his real agenda is. It is the transformation of America from a free-to-create-your-own-wealth society into a government-dictated-government-directed-government-first society which will attempt to overthrow history and abolish poverty.

Jesus said, 'The poor you have with you always'. He was not kidding. Poverty is complex, but it very often reflects very bad life choices. In America as it still is, you are free to fail, and free to succeed. As far as I can tell, Mr Obama wants to make it impossible to really fail. All over the developed world outside the US, you can see the consequences of the attempts to do the same thing- very low productivity, selfishness, immorality, the infantilisation of large numbers of people, breakup of the family, high-dependence lifestyles and a precipitous decline in the birth rate. Is that what Americans want? Fitting in and not being exceptional are very tempting, but in this case truly idiotic.

Exceptionalism isn't always appropriate, but in this case I think it is. It is not a trite commonality that America is strong because it is free. Freedom enabled tiny little England to punch far beyond its weight in world affairs. Its habits of government and mind were bequeathed to America. Will the poison of socialism succeed in destroying the fruit of that bequest?